Having been called “The gateway to the world” in the past, Hamburg may very well be the most diverse city in all of Germany. It’s not a city with which one falls in love at first glance, but one with which you build strong ties upon longer acquaintance. Apart from the most obvious asset of Hamburg, the port city vibe and all the attractions that brings – charming eateries, wonderful waterfront and the multicultural twist – Hamburg offers depth and substance. Enthusiasts of good music come to Hamburg to visit the new concert hall, the Elbphilharmonie, and to enjoy the vast musical heritage of this city. With Hamburg being the birthplace of both Johannes Brahms and Felix Mendelssohn, it’s hard not to call it a musical city. The mixture of modern and historic architecture is another asset of Hamburg – where else could you party in a former WWII bunker, turned into a nightclub? Finally, Hamburg knows how to enjoy life – if you’re looking for quality cuisine and great nightclubs, Hamburg will surely not let you down.
Top 10 Things to See and Do in Hamburg
Hamburg Hop-on-Hop-off Tour
This tour allows you to traverse the city of Hamburg at your own pace in a classy red double-decker. You will be free to choose a route that suits you the best, with a lot of individual stops along the way, providing a convenient and comprehensive experience, which makes it easier to see all the top attractions of the city.
Essential Hamburg Combo Tour
Not only does this tour provide a hop-on-hop-off sightseeing service, which you can use whenever you wish, but it also allows you to enjoy a one-hour long harbor cruise. Moreover, there is a second one-hour long cruise included, on the Lake Alster. The ticket is valid for three consecutive days.
Guided Hamburg City Bike Tour
This bike tour will take you along the most important spots in Hamburg faster than a walking tour would, thanks to the use of comfortable bikes. The pace of the tour has been designed for all ages and abilities, so do not worry about not being able to keep up, and a free helmet is included with the purchase.
Hamburg Small-Group Sunset Sailing Cruise on Lake Alster
If you have a few free hours during your trip to Hamburg, this excursion is a good way to spend your time. It will take you on a sunset cruise on Lake Alster, providing you with a gorgeous view of the city skyline. There is also free beverage provided, so you do not have to worry about being thirsty.
St Pauli and the Port of Hamburg Tour
With the supervision of a well-accustomed local guide who will show you along the way, you will be able to explore the world-famous red-light district of Hamburg, as well as the Port of Hamburg. The tour takes two and a half hour and includes an exploration of a German submarine, as well as a ferry ride.
Hamburg Reeperbahn Pub Crawl
This four-hour long tour will take you on an enjoyable pub crawl along some of the most prominent nightclubs and pubs of Hamburg. See for yourself the thriving nightlife of the city, mostly centered in the St Pauli district. A couple of free drinks are provided, along with a range of discounts.
Guided Walking Tour Through The Elbphilharmonie
Being one of the most famous concert halls in all of Germany, the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg is a place worth visiting. A knowledgeable guide will tell you about the history of the hall and its construction, and the tour takes a short time, allowing you to go on to see the other attractions of the city.
Private Small-Group Hamburg City Tour with a Luxury Vehicle
If you are feeling fancy, why not try this tour, which takes four hours and allows you to sit comfortably in a luxurious vehicle? With a group of up to four people, you are allowed to establish your own route of attractions and monuments to see. Moreover, refreshments are provided for free with the ticket.
City Tour through Hamburg by Bus
Providing one of the best cost-efficient prices available in the city, this tour will allow you to use a bus to traverse the city. The route takes you along some of the most important spots in Hamburg, including the Michel, the Alster, the town hall, the Elbphilharmonie, the Landungsbrucken, and others.
Skip the Line Panoptikum tour
Save yourself hours of waiting in lines to enter the Panoptikum in Hamburg for a very reasonable price. Inside, you will be able to explore at your own pace the marvels of the museum, including extremely realistic wax figures of characters from movies, pop-culture, and many other areas of everyday life.
Other Things to See and Do
The Speicherstadt is a district of Hamburg located near the city port. It is the biggest complex of magazines and warehouses, made in a gorgeous gothic style out of red brick. Nowadays, the Speicherstadt is a World Heritage Site, and its unique atmosphere is definitely worth experiencing.
Located not far from the Speicherstadt, the HafenCity is the waterside area of the district, finished in 2008. The HafenCity does not cease to grow and is planned to expand even more over the next 15 years, providing more housing and jobs for people, and creating a gorgeous, unique port area.
If you would rather not get a skip-the-line ticket and get into Elbphilharmonie for free, you can absolutely do so. The concert hall was opened in 2017 and is the tallest building in Hamburg, providing a marvellous view of the cityscape, along with its famous concerts of local and foreign performers.
Planten un Blomen
If you feel like having an afternoon walk, there is no better place in Hamburg to visit than the Planten un Blomen. Not only is it one of the most beautiful urban parks of Europe, spanning over almost fifty hectares of gardens and ponds, but it also has quite a few greenhouses with exotic plants to see.
International Maritime Museum
Located in the middle of the Speicherstadt district, in a building called Kaispeicher B, the International Maritime Museum is an enormous display of art spread over eleven floors. The museum was opened in 2008 and presents collections of model ships, naval memorabilia, aquatic artifacts, and even whole boats.
Located just outside the Hauptbahnhof, the Kunsthalle is one of the largest and most famous museums in all of Germany. Not only does it contain masterpieces by such artists as Goya, Canaletto, Lucas Cranach, Rembrandt, and Rubens, but it also has special exhibits on 19th-century art and modern art.
What might sound as a church district at first, is actually one of the most well recognised red-light districts in Germany. If you’re in for a unique experience, make sure to visit the St Pauli district at night to gaze at its neon signs, ever-present graffiti, parades of courtesans, adult shops, and many more.
Take a trip to this unusual museum if you love small and cute things, as it shows one of the biggest miniature collections in the world, which fills a whole warehouse. The Miniatur Wunderland began with only a miniature railway model, but over the last sixteen years, it has been expanded a lot.
Harbor Boat Tour
One of the best ways to see the port and the naval district is to do so from a boat’s deck terrace. If you have the Hamburg card, you can enter a boat for free, but even if you do not, they do not cost much. Many of the cruises also provide live music concerts and free snacks and drinks for their guests.
The Jungfernstieg is the famous waterside promenade of the city of Hamburg. The name of the promenade comes from a tradition of wealthy families presenting their unwed daughters for men of high standing. Nowadays, you can gaze at the historic buildings and browse the souvenir stalls located there.
Opened in the year 1911, the Elbe Tunnel is one of the longest tunnels in the world. It is over four hundred meters long and is located twenty-four meters below the river. There are separate tunnels for cars, pedestrians and cyclists, so you do not have to worry about fumes when going on a walk.
Hamburg is well known for its numerous and gorgeous bridges – it even has more bridges than London and Venice combined. Make sure to take a walk along the Alster, walking along bridges crossing canals and rivers, or go for an afternoon jog along the wide sidewalks with a lot of trees and plant life.
St Michael’s Church
The Church of St Michael is definitely the most famous Baroque Church in all of Germany, and it has lived through quite a lot. It was designed back in the 17th century and is over a hundred and thirty meters tall. The building was destroyed by lighting, razed by fire, and damaged by war, but still stands tall to this day.
While you may think that a fish market is usually a place to go if you’re looking for fresh produce, the Fischmarkt in Hamburg is actually a place of vibrant nightlife. The market contains a lot of local bands and DJs, creating a unique sight with some people searching through the stalls, and other dancing and partying.
The city hall of Hamburg is a gorgeous place to visit, often leaving people speechless when they see it from the outside. The city hall is made in a Neo-Renaissance style and has a façade which is over a hundred and thirty meters tall, featuring a tall clock tower, with even more stuff to see inside.
If you love looking at animals, make sure to visit the enormous zoo of Hamburg. It spans over twenty-four hectares of terrain, located in Planten un Blomen, and contains more than five hundred different species of animals from all over the world, including giraffes, elephants, leopards, zebras, lions, and many more.
If you have a couple of hours to spare during your stay in Hamburg, make sure to take a walk along the streets of Sternschanze, a unique district of Hamburg. The streets of Sternschanze are adorned with graffiti, local hipster bars, anarchist communes, and small-time artists performing on the sidewalk.
Dialogue in the Dark
Come to the Dialog im Dunkeln museum for a truly unique experience, as the unusual museum puts you in the shoes of a blind person. You will have to rely on your other senses to get through the museum, as you will be blindfolded and led by a blind guide, making for a one-of-a-kind experience.
Located between the Hauptbahnhof and the Hafen City district, the old exhibition centre presents art and photography located in a brick and steel warehouse, built in the 1910s. Not only is the gallery a sight to see from the outside, but the inside contains one of the largest collections of Japanese art.
The name of this neighbourhood might be a little tough to pronounce for English-speakers, but should be definitely visited. Located on the outskirts of the town, the neighbourhood is filled with narrow alleys which round in a chaotic manner, surrounded by beautiful houses and stairways going up the cliff.